August 14, 2020  

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Mario Larouche

Suzanne Brais obtained a Bachelor in Biology (UQAM 1984), a Master in Environmental Science (UQAM 1987) and a PhD in Forest Science (Université Laval 1997). From 1990 to 1998, she worked as a research assistant at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue while completing her PhD. Since 1998, she is working as a professor and research scientist for the NSERC/UQAT/UQAM Industrial Chair in Sustainable Forest Management. As a specialist in forest soil and nutrition, she works on the impacts of forest interventions and natural disturbances on ecosystem resilience and long-term productivity.

Research orientation

Impacts of natural and anthropic disturbances on ecosystem resilience, nutrient reserve, and quality of organic soils.

Resilience and productivity of forest ecosystems are related to the ecosystem’s capacity to limit nutrient losses following major disturbances and to synchronize stand nutrient demand and availability. In the past, maintaining soil fertility has been associated with the preservation of nutrient reserves and so, the debate on biomass and nutrient extraction from branches during harvest is behind the majority of studies on harvesting impacts on forest nutrition. Combustion of organic matter during forest fire can also generate important ecosystem nutrient losses. Moreover, salvage logging following a fire is a practice that is gaining popularity but can interfere with resilience mechanisms such as short-term immobilization by understory vegetation and long-term immobilization by coarse woody debris. By means of retrospective studies and biochemical balance, we documented the extent of these phenomenons for boreal ecosystems.

Furthermore, we wish to broaden the discussion on the contribution of coarse woody debris –produced by mortality and decay of trees– to the preservation of soil organic matter and on the contribution of this organic matter to soil physical characteristics such as water retention. Also, impacts of forest management practices are evaluated in the light of ecosystem processes subjected to natural disturbances. The results will serve as a basis for establishing indicators of boreal ecosystem productivity and for the development of forest management practices closer to ecosystems natural processes.

  • Paré, D., Rochon, P. and Brais, S. 2002. Assessing the geochemical balance of managed boreal forests. Ecological Indicators 28:1-19.
  • Brais, S., Paré, D., Camiré, C., Rochon, P. & Vasseur, C. 2002. Nitrogen net mineralization and dynamics following whole-tree harvesting and winter windrowing on clayey sites of northwestern Québec. For. Ecol. Manage. 157: 119-130.
  • Brais, S., Paré, D. Ouimet, R. 2000. Impacts of wild fires on the nutrient balance of jack pine and black spruce boreal stands: Effects of fire severity and salvage harvesting. Forest Ecology and Management 137: 231-243.
  • Brais, S., Camiré, C. Paré, D. 1995. Impacts of whole-tree harvesting and winter windrowing on soil pH and base status of clayey sites in northwestern Quebec. Can. J. For. Res. 25: 997-1007.

Silviculture and ecosystem management of mixed boreal forest: the SAFE project.

This project is based on ecosystem management conceptual models, which are developed from the knowledge on natural dynamics and applied at the landscape and stand levels of the mixed boreal forest. The general objective is to develop silvicultural systems that reflect natural dynamics of the mixed boreal forest, maintain biodiversity, cycles and productivity of ecosystems while sustaining a competitive forest industry. More specifically, what we wish to evaluate for the mixed boreal forest of northwestern Québec are the methods of harvest and of restoration and management of residue. These methods can maintain (1) biodiversity in indicator communities at a fine scale, (2) spatial patterns of forest structure and (3) functional integrity of ecosystems. This project is done in the Research Forest of Duparquet Lake. Three experimental designs were used in stands originating from fire with ages of 75, 175, and 235 years old. The monitoring is based on the comprehension of processes related to the response of the stands. Researchers from many universities of Québec, the Canadian Forest Service and the Department of Natural Resources of Québec are involved. For more information:

  • Calogeropoulos, C., Greene, D.F., Messier, C. and Brais, S. 2002. Refining tree recruitment models. Can. J. For. Res. 33: 41-46.
  • Chagnon, M., Paré, D., Brais, S. 2001 La biodiversité des collemboles et les débris ligneux après coupe. Le naturaliste canadien 125 (3) : 122-125.

Characterization of skidding trails left after harvest with regeneration protection (HARP).

This type of harvest is the most frequently used in the boreal forest of Québec. During harvest, the machinery leaves a trail equivalent to a regular pattern of disturbance. This disturbance is at its maximum in the trail, intermediate on the borders of the trail and at a minimum in the centre of the untouched strips. We have described the severity and extent of soil compaction on cut blocks for two main types of soils of Abitibi. We also established the relationship between the numbers of times the skidder passes, the severity of compaction, and the growth of the artificial regeneration five years after they establish. The dynamics of competitive vegetation and natural regeneration was monitored for seven years after harvest.

  • Harvey, B., Brais, S. 2002. Effects of mechanized careful logging on natural regeneration and vegetation competition in the southeastern Canadian boreal forest. Can. J. For. Res. 32 :653-666.
  • Brais, S. 2001. Persistence of soil compaction and effects on seedling growth in northwestern Quebec. SSSA Journal 65 1263-1271.
  • Brais, S. et Camiré C. 1998. Soil compaction in the clay belt region of northwestern Quebec (Canada). Can. J. Soil Sci. 78 :197-206.

Email : carcajou33[at]

Supervisor : Kneeshaw Daniel

Co-Supervisor : Asselin Hugo

Publication : (see most recent)

  1. Mario Larouche, 2008. La modélisation de scénarios d'aménagement forestier à l'échelle du paysage : un outil d'aide à la décision en foresterie autochtone. Mémoire de maîtrise en biologie, Université du Québec à Montréal. 80 p.

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